SubVerse Aphrodesia

A writer's blog by Alicia Grega

giving blood

After seeing him today in the parking lot, eight months later …
It’s clear I will never be “okay” again.

Why should eyes be allowed to tear without our permission?
What kind of genetic flaw is this?
We don’t go around smacking ourselves in the face all the time; why can’t we decide when to cry?
Would we never choose it?
Why not just stay content all the time? Who would notice?
Only natural to see how long we could get away with it.
That’s the gamble of life most days.
How much longer am I going to get away with this?
On a bad day: How much longer do I have to carry this weight?

Let it go.
Let it go.
I know.

You think I don’t have a shirt that says that?

Update: I’ve been meditating daily; 45 minutes of yoga every other day, cycling on the other days, at least 8 miles or min. 30 minutes (and that’s 30 minutes of actual cycling time- the meter clocks it, and stops counting when I take water breaks).
Consciously dieting during this time of so few pleasures.

Just started a low dose of estrogen last week.
Should have started that years ago, but I was arrogant after the surgery.
Thought I would feel just fine with diet and exercise.
No perspective to understand how much that little hormone did.
How losing my ovaries would turn me into someone I no longer recognized.

And then in losing him, to lose even more of myself,
so much of what I believed now appears untrue…

In any case, there is some shell left standing and I’ve resorted to strategy, schedule and routine to take care of myself.
Whoever she is.

The effort is exhausting – on bad days I’m not sure how much longer I want to bother.
On those days, I am tired of wanting to feel better and failing.

Today, the phlebotomist told me –

after I felt his eyes land on me and I ran into the Red Cross
panic; terror; PTSD; his silence has made him a monster
Still bolts of energy connecting us from a distance.
The connection was never was a choice. It chose us.
He recognized me.
And then a wave of sorrow crashed down.

He’s refused to say anything to me for eight months.
He’s not going to start talking now. Here, caught by surprise, in public.
After I coincidentally turned into the parking lot behind him.
(Only later did it occurred to me he might have thought I was following him.
Did he guess I was there to give blood next to his gym?
The appointment was set two months ago – they don’t take walk-ins anymore.)

Was I just supposed to stand there and let him look at me.
Was that pity in his eyes?
Does he feel sorry for me too, or just for himself?

This is what pain feels like.
And this is what the dharma says to do.
Just sit with it.
Don’t judge it.
Just acknowledge that it is.

It’s so much more than loss.

His care turned into contempt.
My rock is gone.
I’ve got no one to lean on.

So after the phlebotomist says to me,
“Your donation today is going to save 26 babies who need a blood transfusion…”
Whoa. What?
There are a bunch of small bags hooked up to the apparatus I’ve never noticed.
They’ve never said this to me before and I donate every two months.
Literally saving babies is a thing?
They usually send an email that says my blood went to someone in a hospital in New York State
– Buffalo, Rochester …
the details are nobody’s business.
Today, it feels like the Red Cross has issued a special assignment for my O neg universal donor blood.

Me, a 48-year-old, divorced, empty-nested adjunct college professor and freelance teaching artist (writing/theatre) who also works part-time doing marketing and communications for a nonprofit that helps women and children experiencing homelessness,
(Can I hear a prayer for a shorter job title in my future? Amen! Or maybe we could just not, as a society, label each other according to our occupations. But if I said I was a playwright, would you find that pretentious?)
from Scranton, PA,
basically keeping her head down during the pandemic while justifiably freaked out that she’s working as hard as she can and still NEEDED that COVID stimulus money from the government to survive.
She keeps asking, how are we going to fix this, but there are no answers.

Me. I’m nobody.
Yet, God has made it possible for me to save 26 babies with one blood donation. It’s one hour of my Sunday.
Who am I to decide what my rewards will be in this life and when I will be allowed to enjoy them?
It is my duty to respect this life I was given.
Nurture its body, mind, heart and soul.

I have said “yes” to so many things, some choices wiser than others.
I have tasted and touched and listened, saw and breathed so much.
So many gifts of life.

I owe it to people I will never meet
to take care of what I’ve been given
and giveback as much as I can.

It just doesn’t matter if I feel bad once in a while.
Let it rain until it’s done.
Nature insists on change.

Later, sitting in my kitchen table in silence,
letting these words take me where they will,
I hear a freight train in the closenough distance:
church bells giving it the full Sunday treatment.

Gratitude for this quiet
to hear life beyond myself and the cat.
There are almost always background sounds distracting –
radio, podcasts, audibooks, TV, instrumentals –
less music these past months.
Too many songs crafted to make us feel;
too hard to stop crying once the tears start.

Like that day “Big Yellow Taxi” came on at Redner’s.
It’s not socially acceptable to break down crying at the grocery store,
so you do whatever you can not to hear Joni Mitchell.
Or think about the lyrics and how he never told you how
he came to be such a big fan.
There’s got to be a story there
and now you’ll never know.

It is the structure to blame when the end
fails to satisfy.
Too abrupt.
Yet, in life things are just like this,
too suddenly over.

– ag, Jan. 17, 2001

We Should All Be Arts Heroes

As part of a Dramatists Guild campaign, I composed a letter to our incoming President and Vice President about the particular challenges facing theatre artists and the arts in general and how we must, as a nation, honor the socio-economic value professional artists and the arts sector bring to the United States of America.

AIE #teachingtips

No one publishes their first draft. If you aren’t making “mistakes,” you aren’t writing enough.



Taking a breath of fresh

Air on the back porch

Through the sound of melting snow

I hear a dog bark and wonder

When I will stop thinking

Of his dog that I loved, too.

Not so far away…

They cannot hear my thoughts,

But they might be able to hear these

church bells that ring softly at 7 pm.

When we used to meet for dinner.

-ag, 1/5/21

Portrait of Frances

One hour in the life of Frances Maia. Jan. 4, 2021.

(Just feels good to write “2021.”) -ag

Are we there yet?

Marshall McLuhan’s 1965 vision of “The City” as theme park, as remembered by Tom Wolfe.

pinophyta fermata

This year’s holiday card.

Happy Holidays to all. – alicia

Hard not to remember

the last time I shoveled so much snow …

the thing about heartbreak, it hurts even when you know it’s coming.

You can’t brace yourself, slowly wean yourself off his love. You’re too busy living in the magic of the moment to make such morbid plans.

There was beauty there. And joy.

It’s good that you let go; good that you let yourself enjoy it. It’s better you were unprepared. You were never going to want to let go.

Because you stayed so enamored despite the faults in the structure. So what it wasn’t perfect. There is no perfect. That’s not a thing. Not a good enough reason to say goodbye.

You were not ready to lose so much so fast …

You were not ready for 2020.

You were not ready to do this alone.

Were you always doing it alone?

You don’t know where to put your connection.

-Alicia Grega (quote above from “Stella for Star,” Dystalgia).

New chat on TandR – NOV. 8

Link to archived episode 394:

From E.W.:

“Taste “I think I’ve Always Been On the Outside… You Know, a Little Rebellious.” We have for your listening pleasure Sunday at 11am est Episode 394 of “Troubadours and Raconteurs with E.W. Conundrum Demure” on WFTE Radio (

Episode 394 features a compelling conversation with Writer, Activist, Educator, Baker and Candlestickmaker – Kitty Belle Burbank (that’s Alicia).

Kitty Belle and I discuss Her Rough Summer, Relationships, Miranda & Frances, Rebellion, Sense of Humor, Being Honest, Singular Thinking, Closure, Delusion, the Dark Side, Marc Maron, Joe Biden Becoming President, Scranton, Rewards All Around Us…

Episode 394 also includes an E.W. Essay titled “Penn’s Wood.” We share a new Radio Play written by our Associate Producer Dr. Michael Pavese titled “Bewitched”as performed by Dominick, Margo & Marnie Azzarelli. We have an E.W. poem called “Sign.”

Our music this go round is provided by these wonderful artists: Django Reinhard, Stephane Grapelli, the Resistance Revival Chorus with Rhiannon Giddens, John Moreland, Lucinda Williams, the Cramps, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Branford Marsalis and Terrence Blanchard.

Commercial Free, Small Batch Radio Crafted within the West Mountain Range of Northeastern Pennsylvania… Heard All Over The World.

Tell Your Friends and Neighbors…”

#TooClose ?

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